Using your strengths to give you direction

How did you get on looking at your own strengths? Did you use the on-line questionnaire or did you work out your own labels? Did you rely on your own analysis or did you ask for feedback from others?

All of these questions give you further clues about how you understand and recognise your own strengths.

rain on May flowers

 

I decided to do the on-line questionnaire again. Most of my strengths came out in a very similar order and did make sense to me. My top five are:

  1. Capacity to love and be loved.
  2. Love of learning
  3. Hope, optimism and future mindedness
  4. Perspective (wisdom)
  5. Appreciation of beauty and excellence

For me the development of the capacity to love and be loved has been very much a learning curve. This is something I found challenging before I began my personal development journey over twenty years ago. I was distrustful of others and often found myself drawn to people who were unhealthy for me.

It is a great comfort to me to know that now I have the ability to recognise the people who truly do love me and I am able to express my love in a healthy, positive way. I find that leading workshops gives me a sense of that expression to a wider audience than I ever expected. For me it is important when my students make personal breakthroughs.

Strengths two and five are no surprise at all and if you have been following my blog you probably know this about me already. Strengths three and four also support my own sense of self and my life purpose. I get great joy from helping others connect to hope and optimism. Helping people recognise that there is power in enjoying and appreciating now and being future minded aligns with my life mission.

Our past does not equal our future, if we learn the lessons, let go of the pain and acknowledge our strengths we have the power to unlock our potential.

buttercups

What are your top five strengths? How do they help you in aligning to your life purpose?

Do let me know.

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Acknowledging your Strengths, get too big for your boots!

In our culture, and by our culture I mean UK and much of Europe, we are reluctant to “blow our own trumpet”. We are taught this is “big headed”, boastful and arrogant. Sadly this often results in people feeling uncomfortable about owning their strengths, achievements and talents.

I would like you this week to challenge this within yourself. Get clear about your strengths. Make friends with them. Be proud of your strengths because while you acknowledge your own strengths you can also recognise them in others.

This week I have been teaching some new mentors the skills and approaches useful when mentoring and helping others. One of the things we discussed was this;

“Mentors need to role model celebrating

success and acknowledging strengths.”

Perhaps it is time for us all to realise that by acknowledging our strengths we are role modelling for others that it is okay to do so.

I do think it is okay to have some social sensitivity and to do this in a way that will be nurturing for ourselves and others. There will be appropriate times and places.

If this is uncomfortable for you here is my challenge for you, start by acknowledging your strengths to yourself. Once you have done that share your strengths with at least three people you trust. Encourage them to share theirs with you.

Let me know how you get on. And to role model let me tell you that last week on my photography course I did really well. At the end we had a little competition and I won! I’ve included my winning photograph for you to see.

Oh and by the way if you are getting too big for your boots, just get a bigger pair!!

060414 106

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Finding your strengths, recognising what is right with you

This week I am continuing my new thought stream re-visiting Positive Psychology. I studied this topic at the University of East London when I attended the first European based Positive Psychology Masters Degree.

One of the things I love about Positive Psychology is the idea that we can focus on what is right with people rather than what is wrong with them. When Psychology was first developed as a field it did look at the “whole” range of human experience both the healthy and the troubled. At some point in our history, probably around the time of the First World War the focus shifted to the issue of “what is wrong with people”.

It could be argued that the Self-actualisation movement, Humanistic Psychology and others still looked at both ends of the spectrum however when Positive Psychology was first suggested as a distinction it captured the public imagination.

One idea worth exploring is the idea of “Strengths”. Many people are keen to tell you their weaknesses particularly when reviewing things they have done. Have you noticed how many people are extremely self-critical?

What if we instead focused on our Strengths and how we can harness them, In Positive Psychology this is a topic explored by people like Martin Seligman, Alex Linley and others. It is possible to take a questionnaire that ranks a set of strengths to give you your top five.

When I took this test I was not surprised to find that “Love of learning” was my number one strength. It probably explains why I am forever signing up for a new course and learning a new skill.

This weekend I’m learning wildlife photography. As I sat in class yesterday I noticed how content I was to be learning. I haven’t been on a course recently so it was interesting to notice that I’d missed it. My favourite learning style is in the classroom with others so although I can and do learn from other medium it was being in the classroom that really captured my imagination.

dream and let your ideas take flight

I found taking the various strengths questionnaires I have participated in during my Positive Psychology degree interesting and they gave me a place to start in reflecting on my own strengths. However I do wonder if choosing from a list is a little limiting.

What do you consider your strengths to be? Do you know intuitively?

If you are not sure here is a link to one of the questionnaires I took. This one is free and your results will be used for research purposes.

http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/default.aspx

Let me know how you get on and we’ll talk more about strengths next week.

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Counting your blessings, an old idea with modern meaning

As I begin to delve into Positive Psychology this week I’d like to start by exploring the value of “gratitude”. This concept has been written about within Positive Psychology and lots of great ideas have been gathered. Most of these ideas have been there for a long time sometimes forgotten or overlooked.

So let me start by mentioning why I decided to start here. Firstly it ties in with my previous blog stream on values. Secondly it was prompted by a message from an old friend.

My friend had received bad news about the death of a parent. Unfortunately the news arrived rather late and as my friend lives overseas getting back for the funeral was impossible as it was planned for the next day.

It reminded me of how lucky I am and how it was time for me to recognise that. I sometimes spend time complaining about my family and the fact that it doesn’t resemble “The Waltons”. Growing up I often wished I had the kind of family that was always saying “I love you” and that would say things that would allow me to grow up with a positive self-image. That didn’t happen.

However in all my complaining perhaps I missed the most important thing of all. I was and I am loved. My parents are still alive and although failing in health they are here. I might get frustrated with my mother for not allowing others to help her however she is a strong woman. Her strength and independent spirit are two things I inherited from her and I am grateful for both of those strengths.

I also know that both my parents, my sister and my brother are there for me 100%. My sister is now also committed to her own personal development journey and I am grateful for how that is allowing us to become much closer. We are moving toward the kind of relationship that I wanted.

I am grateful for the wonderful man I have been married to for nearly twenty years. He is loving, loyal, dependable, supportive, inspiring, creative, handsome and sexy. In short he is Brilliant! I am also grateful for the strength I had in breaking my old negative relationship patterns that have allowed me to have this wonderful relationship.

There are many other things I am grateful for and I will continue to reflect on these however for now let me get back to sharing what this has to do with Positive Psychology.

In 2006 an online research project was undertaken by Seligman et al (date is from memory so you might need to check). It looked at several positive interventions including one I have written about before.

The idea was to keep a gratitude journal, writing down at least five things you are grateful for every day. The things to record could be big things if they happened however it was more important to recognise even the smallest thing such as a person opening a door for you.

This helps to format the mind to notice the positive around us and counter balances the constant bombardment of negative news. As we look for the positive it has a beneficial impact on our positive affect.

The research supported this. People doing this exercise for just one week saw a significant improvement in their life satisfaction and well-being. After six months this effect was still there and for many who continued the exercise voluntarily the improvement continued.

I came across this idea myself over twenty years ago watching an edition of Oprah! One of her guests (I’m sorry I don’t remember the name) shared this technique. I have used it myself and with others since then. I have continually received feedback on how powerful this exercise is.

Try it yourself and let me know how you get on. You can really kick start this mind-set by writing down first of all everything in your life that perhaps you have been taking for granted. I plan to do that myself.

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Spring is in the air, time for a change

I’ve decided I’m ready for a change of topic now. I have decided to run a series over the next few months looking at Positive Psychology. I was part of the very first cohort to study Positive Psychology in Europe. The course was a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology with the University of East London.

The topic is uplifting and refreshing. Over the next few months I will explore a number of ideas that form part of Positive Psychology. Let me know what your interests are so I can include things that matter to you.

For the rest of this blog I’d like to share a couple of announcements.

Please take a look at some pictures I’ve added here and on our GWiz NLP Facebook page. I do hope you like them.

Be Brilliant today shine on in every way

 

 

I am currently in the process of getting my coaching courses recognised by the Association For Coaching. Once this is

 

complete the course I currently run as ILM Level 7 Executive Coaching will be also recognised by the AC. The next course starts in April. Let me know if you want details.

For those of you who have been chasing me on this, our next NLP Master Practitioner will be held 11th to 19th October 2014.

Other news! I will be setting up an NLP Practice Group in Crowborough soon. Let me know if you would like to come along. I am also encouraging some of our GWiz graduates to set up other groups elsewhere including Bedfordshire.

The next free 2 day intr0doction to NLP is 8th to 9th May and we still have some places available!

 

 

 

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Getting back in the driving seat of your life!

Last week I wrote about positive intentions and how these can keep us stuck if we do not find a new way to satisfy these important intentions. This week I want to build on what you need to do to make changes.

Do you ever feel like you are a passenger in your own life and that things are just happening to you?

This feeling is a relatively common one for many people, if you recognise this in yourself the first thing to do is notice the feeling. Now take a deep breath and step back metaphorically from your life. Take another look.

Often we need to get perspective in order to realise that we have more control than we realise. You may be able to get this perspective on your own by reflecting on your experiences or you might need to find a skilled practitioner who can facilitate you in getting this perspective.

Part of this journey is about educating yourself. If there are things in your life that are less than fulfilling challenge yourself to understand how much control you do have. Find other people to use as role models. The people you choose could be those who have had similar experiences or history to yourself but have overcome their obstacles.

Work out what they did to make those changes. If you know the person you could even ask them. Read books about people who took control of their lives and transformed challenging situations.

You might identify that there are some personal skills you need to develop such as assertiveness, flexibility or even basic conversation skills. Make a plan to get those skills, maybe join a class, go on a workshop or get a coach.

Maybe some of the skills you need to develop are practical, such as financial planning or using a computer. Again, take charge, get a plan and get the appropriate help.

If you realise your self-esteem needs a boost take charge of that too.  You could start with a book or audio such as “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers for example. There are lots of other excellent books too.

In a nutshell the steps are:

  1. Own your experience, recognise you can take charge.
  2. Take responsibility for making those changes.
  3. Educate yourself in whatever way you need to.
  4. Take action and stay focused.

Before I sign off today, I’m running a two day introduction to Transactional Analysis for coaches starting this Tuesday. The workshop will be at our new centre in Crowborough, East Sussex. I still have a few places left, it would be lovely if you could join me.

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How can we stay safe if we let go of our fear, hurt and anger?

Following on from last week..

From an NLP perspective whenever we help someone tackle a personal issue we look at how to preserve the original “positive intention”. For example when we talk about letting go of either fear, hurt or anger we need to honour the original reason we kept it in the first place.

Sometimes this reason is outside our conscious awareness and may take considerable reflection to uncover. It is possible with the help of a skilled practitioner to deal with maintaining the positive intention using an NLP process that allows this to be handled at the unconscious level.

If you want to work through this yourself it is important that you ask yourself some vital questions to check the meaning of your positive intention. One option is to meditate on each of the following questions and write your answers down.

“What is the learning from my experience?”

If your responses are things like “you just can’t trust anyone” it is worth meditating on this answer too until you find something that allows you to move in the direction of healing. For instance perhaps the underpinning learning is how to spot when someone is mistreating you or deceiving you. The learning might be the signs of untrustworthy behaviour. This will allow you to move away from the limiting belief that “no one is trustworthy”.

Now for the next qu3stion to ask yourself.

 “What resources, strengths and knowledge have I gained?”

Often even very painful experiences have provided us with unexpected rewards. For instance, in childhood I was sexually abused by someone who managed to present a friendly face. As a result I am able to help other people who have had similar experiences. Having lived through this and moved on I have more empathy than I might otherwise have. Interestingly enough I have done the forgiveness part with this issue!

And now for a third question.

“Is this positive intention out of date?”

Sometimes the original positive intention was very relevant for a child how is often powerless in many situations however as an adult we naturally often have more resources. Is the fear, hurt and anger related to this no longer serving a purpose?

I’ll write more next week. Today we start day one of our NLP Practitioner training so all is excitement here!

Couple of quick announcements.

  1. Next week I’m running my two day Transactional Analysis for Coaches. I still have some place left and would really like to fill them. If you would like to join us email me and I might be able sort out a last minute booking rate for you. :0)
  2. For those of you interested in NLP our next free two day workshop is in May. Check out our main website for detatils on how to book. www.gwiznlp.com
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Why do we hang onto our hurts, fears and anger?

This week’s blog follows on from my thoughts about forgiveness last week.

In NLP we use a term “positive intention”. This is the understanding that for every behaviour there is a positive intention that drives it. Sometimes this positive intention is unclear at least at the conscious level. It can even seem quite negative.

So an important clarification here, the positive intention is for the person doing the behaviour not anyone who might be on the receiving end. In other words even potentially harmful behaviours will be about perhaps protecting, putting in boundaries, feeling significant, making connection or anyone of a dozen other motivations.

It can also be the best choice we can make with the knowledge and information available to us. Sometimes it is the least worst choice.

In the case of forgiveness it is likely to be about protection. We are wanting to make sure that we don’t re-experience something. If we hang onto our fear, hurt or anger we can stay vigilant and not let our guard down again.

One of my recent clients reminded me that for some people there is a resistance to forgiveness for religious reasons. For me this one is not an issue however sometimes people who grew up in a strongly religious environment may have negative associations to the word “forgiveness”. For them the meaning is different and might need a reframe.

A third issue can be an anxiety that forgiveness might be about saying what another person did was okay. I’d like to address this one first and I am speaking to my own smaller self as I write this.

“What was done to you was wrong. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

“When people do things that in your value system are morally wrong it is okay for you to “disagree with their behaviour and their choices. When people break the law forgiveness is separate to accountability. People are accountable for their actions whether we forgive them or not.”

What does it cost us if we hang onto our fear, hurt and anger?

Often when we are avoiding forgiveness we are living with the three burdens of fear, hurt and anger and it costs us dear.

We hold the fear that we will experience the same thing again so we build barriers around ourselves blocking people from getting too close.

We examine our hurt regularly and so strengthen the feelings by anchoring them by re-stimulating the pain. Rather than diminishing with time our pain gets more intense.

We use our anger to build an arsenal of weapons to fend off more hurt. We lash out, get in first or become unapproachable.

There are many people who believe that when we hold onto emotions like anger, fear and hurt that there is a negative impact on our health. Although the scientific research is still patchy where this is concerned it makes sense to me.

It takes a lot of energy to keep recycling our old hurts. I wonder how much more energy we would have if we just let go!

And the paradox in all this?

The more we resist it the more we seem to experience it. We become magnets to experiences that seem to re-confirm our feelings over and over again. It all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The world we expect is the world we experience.

Let me know what you think about this topic. More next week.

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Why is forgiveness often so challenging?

It is my birthday today and I found myself thinking “maybe I’ll skip the blog this week”. How interesting when I reflect that I wrote a brief holding blog last week because I was working.

What is really going on?

Then I realised it! I’ve been procrastinating! At the beginning of this most recent series I said I was going to write about forgiveness and it is about time I did.

Why am I finding it so hard to get started?

There is a part of me that really does not want to forgive. When I examine that part more closely I realise that part is only about four years old. It is the wounded hurt part of myself driven by fear.

So here is my promise right now. I will look after that part of myself and at the same time I am going to explore this issue right now. I am going to keep writing until I’ve said what I need to say on the subject.

I think it is entirely possible that what I write today will fill up more than one blog but I will do all the writing today, right now.

Hey here is the next bit of procrastination. I started telling myself I felt a backache sitting in this chair! Okay I’ve adjusted my posture and I’m good to go!

Okay that was weird! The screen went blank! I’m even getting technology to help me procrastinate. Thank you words press for automatic saving!! The procrastination failed!

So I have a four year old part that does not want to forgive and a part in the here and now that recognises (at least intellectually) that forgiveness is a healthy thing to do.

I need to value, listen to and protect my inner child. I need to understand why it is important to hang onto certain issues. When I have done that perhaps I can then forgive.

I know it is time for me to do this because I have started attracting clients into my practice who are wrestling with forgiveness. There is a clue.

What is great about that is not only are people holding up mirrors for me they are also providing me with some alternate perspectives.

I’ve also put on a bit of the weight I had lost. This feels like that protection thing again!

I was right I have enough for several weeks of blog! Next week I will share what I’ve written about hanging onto our fear, hurt and anger.

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Doing what matters!

I’ve been busy running our NLP Diploma this weekend. Many of the delegates had major breakthroughs. For me this is amazing. This is why I do this kind of work. This is my life purpose.

For this reason my blog is short and sweet. Next week I’ll write my normal blog, be kind to yourself and I’ll speak to you next week. :0)

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